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Auction Watch: a January update What's going on in the auction world

The Auctioneer

Old fashioned binoculars

Welcome to Auction Watch, a new feature that looks back at auction activity in the preceding months. The overall information is courtesy of David Sandeman at the Essential Information Group, plus comments elsewhere in the property press.

2017 was very much a year of two halves. In the first half auction sales fell by 5% and revenues by 7% when compared to H1 2016. This can be largely attributed to the huge, unprecedented spike in sales we witnessed in early 2016, when buyers rushed to beat the impending stamp duty changes that saw new surcharges introduced for buy-to-let and second home purchases.

In the second half of 2017 we saw the negatives turn into positives. Despite the marginal falls of 1% seen in lots offered, lots sold and amount raised in December, the quarterly figures show a 3% gain in amount raised to £1.351bn. Furthermore, our figures for the whole of H2 show an overall rise of 2.1% in lots sold and 6.2% in amount raised – all against a backdrop of Brexit uncertainty and political turmoil following the general election result!

December 2017 statistics

Auctions held in the UK: 116
Total lots offered: 3,698
Total lots sold: 2,797
Percent sold: 75.6%

Total realised: £529,799,253

There has been a stark contrast in recent results between the two sectors. Residential sales grew by 3.3% in December to 3,338 lots, with a total sales value exceeding £340m (up 6.2% on December 2016).

Conversely, the number of commercial lots sold fell 19% in December, from 567 lots to 459 lots. Commercial revenue totalled £190m – down 12% on December 2016, but despite this fall the quarterly revenue total still increased by 8.5% to £529m – an indication of bigger lot sizes and the strong prices achieved during September and October.

2016 was a hugely distorted year in the residential auction market with the rush to avoid the additional stamp duty hike. 2017 in contrast has been a year of adjustment but the overall message is that sales held up remarkably well. A realistic reserve is always key to achieving a sale in the room, but good quality stock is still proving very popular and often exceeding price expectations.

Interesting trends during 2017 have been the greater diversity of buyers as well as the growth of overseas buyers due to sterling’s weakness. Allsop’s commercial auctioneer George Walker commented “overseas buyers had made up around 3-5% of our buyers for some time, but last year 13% of our sales went to overseas buyers”.

The Auctioneer

About Auction Watch

Auction Watch is a regular feature looking at the preceding month's auction activity, based on data from David Sandeman of the Essential Information Group.

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